Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's Earth Day ... Clean Up Your Act!

Yesterday, I was taking a break from planting sweet potato slips and admiring the bean, squash, pepper, and tomato blossoms in the garden when I heard an odd noise. It sounded like my mallards playing in the old livestock tank ... only I don't keep mallards anymore. I tried to ignore it as I was perched rock still in a chair on the porch trying to photo the relentless hummingbirds as they fed and fought over the feeder. The noise was coming from directly behind me and to investigate would mean turning 180 degrees which would involve moving which would almost certainly guarantee that the hummers would choose that moment to arrive at the feeder and hover for two minutes allowing me to actually shoot a sharply focused picture of them.

The joyous splashing noises continued until finally I could not stand it any longer and I swivelled my porch chair in the opposite direction from my carefully prefocused hummer ambush position.

I was rewarded with two young blue jays (I love jays) taking the most exuberant baths I've ever witnessed. They took turns hopping down from the live oak to the dog water bowl, over and over again.
It's fun to get dirty, but it's good to be clean.
When they finished bathing, I quietly rotated the swivel chair back towards the hummer feeder only to find one of the hummers perched on a laurel oak branch just above the feeder and in good light. How long he had been sitting there, I don't know.
I do know he flew off as I swung the camera up to focus on him.
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19 comments:

robin andrea said...

Look at that exuberance. What a stunning bird. I don't think there's anything cuter than watching the birds take a bath. They always seem to be having such a grand time of it. Great photos.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks Robin! It does look like sheer pleasure.

Peggy said...

FANTASTIC photos (maybe even *better* than a hummer!)! That last one is so cute--all clean and frizzy! (Just washed his feathers and can't do a thing with them...)

Cathy said...

I've probably seen a sequence of pictures that were more smile-wresting - but . . . I can't remember when.

pablo said...

Jays are clever birds. I wonder what it is about some birds that will take the time and trouble to have a vigorous bath while others seem to disdain it. A lot like humans in that way, I guess.

(scuzzy dog water bowl)

threecollie said...

Amazing shots.

Laura said...

What a ruckus he was making in the first two pics... must have been having a good old time in there! That last photo had me laughing, he looks so fresh and spunky.
Great shots here!! I'm so glad he held still for the photo, LOL.

Deb said...

I think missing the hummingbird picture was worth getting the wet bluejay pic. The light is hitting his (or her) feathers just right. Stunning.

pablo said...

And I understand that there is no blue pigment in the feathers. It's all due to refracted light. That's stunning, too.

Floridacracker said...

Peggy,
Thanks! I like his soggy fresh scrubbed look too.

Pablo,
So you're anti-algae?
I've seen my dogs drink from a toilet and once, in an emergency diaper change outside, EAT a baby terd as we stood aghast.
I've seen the doggy bottled water in the grocery store, but haven't tried it yet.
Doggy bottled water!!!!What are we becoming?
As for the blue jay feather, here's a sweet article on their (not unique) blueness.
http://www.birdersworld.com/brd/default.aspx?c=a&id=667

ThreeCollie,
Thanks. I sure hope your winter winds up soon!

Laura,
Thanks! Spunky is exactly the right word for a jay.
SPUNKY!

Deb,
Yes, I think it was a fair trade. I had more amazing bird luck today. I reall have to buy a lottery ticket this week.

Cathy S. said...

Oh my gosh, I cannot tell you all the gross things my dogs have eaten, but have to say they think the manure cart (which I use to spread horse manure on my lawn and flower beds) is a buffet table instead. And they love to drink out of my garden pond which is much greener than your water bowl. I have enjoyed your bird pictures this week. They are inspiring. A co worker caught me gawking under an oak tree this week as I tried to find a bird I heard chirping (not something I usually would do, but I am now inclined to start bird watching thanks to you). He recommended therapy. I prefer to read your blog instead.

Floridacracker said...

Cathy S,
For me, that IS therapy after a busy week with my students.
I really am much more a naturalist than birder. I do love birds, and it has been a birdy week here ... more to come too, I'm afraid. I seem to be a chick magnet this week ... heehee.
I carry my camera for whatever creeps, crawls, flies, swims, etc. The true birder is much more focused on the avian crowd than someone like me. I never carry binoculars for one thing... just my camera.
Birds do bring much pleasure though.

kathy a said...

great photos, especially mr. happy and alert in the 3d photo!

my grandfather was a grumpy old man, but he had a special blue jay who would come eat peanuts out of his hand. that jay was not nearly so cute cute cute as your little freshly bathed guy.

Floridacracker said...

Kathy A,
How could he be grumpy with a Jay in his hand?

Thunder Dave said...

Happy Earth day, even though it's a day late.
I must confess, I celebrated Earthday by doing nothing except sitting around resting, with the windows open a fresh air blowing through the house!

WrenaissanceWoman said...

I love the suspended drops of water, each individually visible, in the second photo. I've seen grackles and robins bathe that enthusiastically, but not blue jays (yet).

And you know that hummingbird only landed there because you were looking the other way, right?

Floridacracker said...

Dave,
Me too, I haven't had the A/C on either.

Wren,
Me too! Love those suspended drops!
You've got that hummer pegged, he's a feisty sneaky little guy.

edifice rex said...

Those are just fantastic shots! The color is wonderful too.

Floridacracker said...

ER,
Thanks!
I don't think there is a prettier blue than that young bird.